New trial is first to study targeted therapy combination for treating thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer is uncommon in the United States and a high percentage of cases are treatable when caught early. Most people diagnosed with the disease have differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC), which includes papillary and follicular thyroid cancers, both derived from the follicular cells of the thyroid gland.  

Mostly, these forms of thyroid cancer are treated with surgery to remove the tumor, followed by radioiodine therapy if the cancer is advanced. Radioiodine, also known as radioactive iodine, is usually given after surgery to destroy remaining thyroid tissue. In cases where the cancer has metastasized and/or the cancer is not responding to radioiodine, the patient may be treated with other types of modalities, such as targeted therapies. 

Two targeted therapies studied 

A new investigator-initiated phase II clinical trial offered by Earle A. Chiles Research Institute, a division of Providence Cancer Institute of Oregon, will evaluate the safety and efficacy of targeted therapies encorafenib and binimetinib in treating people with BRAF-V600 positive thyroid cancer that has spread to other parts of the body and is not responding to radioiodine treatment. BRAF gene mutations are DNA changes that occur in and contribute to some types of cancer. Although the BRAF mutation is most common in melanomas, it can also be found in other types of cancer, including thyroid, colorectal and non-small cell lung cancer. 

Encorafenib and binimetinib are experimental medications for treating thyroid cancer, however, these medications are currently approved for treatment of BRAF mutant metastatic melanoma. Encorafenib is also approved to be used with other drugs to treat patients with BRAF positive colorectal cancer.  

“Approximately 50% of advanced thyroid cancers have a mutation in the BRAF gene. However, we don’t yet have an FDA-approved treatment option to target this mutation in thyroid cancer. The clinical trial is evaluating an oral therapy that targets this common mutation in patients with advanced thyroid cancer,“ says Matthew Taylor, M.D., medical director, Providence Thyroid Cancer Program, co-medical director, Providence Melanoma Program and principal investigator of the study. Dr. Taylor also leads the Developmental Cancer Therapeutics Laboratory at Earle A. Chiles Research Institute.  

Leading the field in thyroid cancer research 

Providence is the only location in the world recruiting patients to the clinical trial, and this is the first trial worldwide to study the combination of encorafenib and binimetinib in treating thyroid cancer. “Earle S. Chiles Research Institute has a long history of conducting important clinical trials that have shaped the way cancer is treated today,” says Dr. Taylor. 

Will these study drugs cause the cancer to shrink? What are the side effects? The knowledge gained through this trial may lead to significant improvements in treatment and outcomes for people with thyroid cancer.  

Read this study here: 

Encorafenib and Binimetinib for Patients with Metastatic BRAF V600 Mutant Thyroid Cancer 

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Find out more about thyroid cancer treatments 

The multidisciplinary team at Providence Thyroid Cancer Clinic includes medical oncologists, an endocrinologist, pathologists, surgical oncologists, otolaryngologists, surgeons, researchers and oncology nurses. Each contribute their unique expertise and compassion to our robust integrative program offering leading therapies and resources, as well as clinical trials through the Earle A. Chiles Research Institute. 

We offer a variety of advanced molecular and genetic tests to: 

  • Confirm a new diagnosis of thyroid cancer 

  • Evaluate thyroid nodules 

  • Profile recurrent or aggressive forms of thyroid cancer 

  • Screen for novel therapies and clinical trials 

Visit Providence Thyroid Cancer Clinic to learn more our resources, treatments and trials.

Related resources 

Clinical trials: Leading breakthroughs in cancer research 

Studies will evaluate combination therapies for two types of melanoma 

New study evaluates immunoradiotherapy treatment for head and neck cancer patients 

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